Oxford’s telemedicine definition is “the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.” Telemedicine encompasses the use of technologies and telecommunication systems to administer healthcare to patients who are geographically separated from providers. For example, a radiologist may read and interpret the imaging results for a patient in a different county whose hospital does not currently have a radiologist on staff. Or a physician may conduct an urgent-care consultation via video for a non-life-threatening condition.

More specific and widely reaching laws, legislations and regulations will have to evolve with the technology. They will have to be fully agreed upon, for example, will all clinicians need full licensing in every community they provide telehealth services too, or could there be a limited use telehealth licence? Would the limited use licence cover all potential telehealth interventions, or only some? Who would be responsible if an emergency was occurring and the practitioner could not provide immediate help – would someone else have to be in the room with the patient at all consult times? Which state, city or country would the law apply in when a breach or malpractice occurred? [23][42]


However, whether or not the standard of health care quality is increasing is quite debatable, with literature refuting such claims.[23][34][35] Research is increasingly reporting that clinicians find the process difficult and complex to deal with.[34][36] Furthermore, there are concerns around informed consent, legality issues as well as legislative issues. Although health care may become affordable with the help of technology, whether or not this care will be "good" is the issue.[23]

“Another distinction between telemedicine and D2C telehealth is that telemedicine consultations are often with medical specialists like cardiologists, dermatologists and pulmonologists,” Downey continued. “These often occur when the patient is in an underserved rural community and the specialist is in a large urban area. The distance makes it difficult to make and keep appointments otherwise. D2C telehealth, on the other hand, best deals with minor primary care issues over the phone. If deemed to be a more serious health concern, the patient is told to make an appointment with a specialist or to proceed to a hospital emergency room.”
But for growth investors, Teladoc looks like a great pick. Telehealth is still in its early stages with a tremendous opportunity for growth. Teladoc Health is the top player in the space with a lead that will be difficult to overcome. The stock might experience sharp declines now and then, but there should be more ups than downs for Teladoc over the long run.
Online doctors are becoming a real thing across America, not just for those who are tech savvy, but for anyone. Although telemedicine was introduced in the United States in the 1960s, it didn’t become popular for the everyday man or women until this last decade. In the past, missing a prescription refill with your family doctor right before the weekend would mean going until Monday before you could even try to schedule an appointment. And even then, it might be days or weeks before you could get in to see the physician.
Telemedicine for trauma triage: using telemedicine, trauma specialists can interact with personnel on the scene of a mass casualty or disaster situation, via the internet using mobile devices, to determine the severity of injuries. They can provide clinical assessments and determine whether those injured must be evacuated for necessary care. Remote trauma specialists can provide the same quality of clinical assessment and plan of care as a trauma specialist located physically with the patient.[41]
Devices are also being used to track blood glucose levels and report high or low levels to patients and providers. In partnership with Stanford, Apple is testing whether its Apple Watch can be used to detect irregular heart patterns, and AliveCor’s KardiaBand allows Apple Watch wearers to perform electrocardiograms in 30 seconds that can easily be transmitted to physicians. Patients often go months without seeing their providers. RPM can allow for earlier detection of complications and identify patients who need to seek medical attention prior to in-person appointments. Moreover, chronic conditions can be more readily and efficiently managed resulting in higher quality care and outcomes as well as reduced costs.
As with many other aspects of modern life, new technologies have had profound impacts on the healthcare delivery system in the US. Modern healthcare customers think nothing of booking an appointment, requesting a prescription refill, or looking at test results online. Many of us count our steps, keep track of what we eat, and monitor our heart rate from a smart device. These days, healthcare and technology go hand in hand.

“Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty,” the organization continues. “Products and services related to telemedicine are often part of a larger investment by healthcare institutions in either information technology or the delivery of clinical care. Even in the reimbursement fee structure, there is usually no distinction made between services provided on site and those provided through telemedicine and often no separate coding required for billing of remote services. ATA has historically considered telemedicine and telehealth to be interchangeable terms, encompassing a wide definition of remote healthcare. Patient consultations via video conferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, consumer-focused wireless applications and nursing call centers, among other applications, are all considered part of telemedicine and telehealth.”


As the population grows and ages, and medical advances are made which prolong life, demands increase on the healthcare system. Healthcare providers are also being asked to do more, with no increase in funding, or are encouraged to move to new models of funding and care such as patient-centered or outcomes based, rather than fee-for-service. Some specific health professions already have a shortage (i.e. Speech-language pathologists). When rural settings, lack of transport, lack of mobility (i.e. In the elderly or disabled), decreased funding or lack of staffing restrict access to care, telehealth can bridge the gap.[4]

Jamee has provided care since 2002, and provided virtual care since 2015. She received her Bachelor and Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas in Houston. Jamee has spent the majority of her nursing career with a focus in emergency and urgent care, transitioning her focus to Family Practice in 2014. She recently relocated to the Northwest from Dallas with her husband and five children. She enjoys reading, crafts, cooking and camping.
How much and which telemedicine services private payers pay for again can vary widely by state. While the trend is toward broader coverage of telemedicine services for plan enrollees, private payers are still deciding on exactly what they will cover and what they won’t. 29 states and Washington, DC have passed telemedicine parity laws, which mandate that private payers in those states pay for telemedicine services at the same rate as in-person visits.
SSM Health telehealth programs use a variety of applications and services including two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology. These modern communication pipelines offer practitioners a channel to interact with the patient and exchange information, pictures and video. Our telehealth programs:
Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than telemedicine. While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.

Sometimes called asynchronous telemedicine, store-and-forward solutions enable healthcare providers to forward and share patient medical data (lab results, images, videos, records) with a provider at a different location. These platforms offer a kind of sophisticated, secure, email platform – a way to share private patient data online in a secure way.
According to this 2015 Cardiac Implantable Electronic Device (CIED) study, patients whose implantation included remote monitoring capabilities had a higher rate of survival than patients without it. “ Furthermore, according to the Center for Technology and Aging, patients who participated in RPM were less likely to experience hospital stays, incurred fewer ED and urgent-care visits, and reported better management of their symptoms. They also indicated increased physical stamina as well as greater overall patient satisfaction and emotional well-being.
The telemedicine foundation is quickly being built. But what do patients think about telemedicine? Are they ready to try it? Recent studies show that a majority of patients are interested in using telehealth services, especially once they see how it works and the potential benefits for them. NTT Data found 74% of surveyed US patients were open to using telemedicine services, and were comfortable communicating with their doctors via technology. 67% said telemedicine at least somewhat increases their satisfaction with medical care.

As telehealth continues to replace traditional health care, it is going to inherit some of its challenges. These include increased cost of care due to multiple vendors, complex care pathways, and government policies. However, the question that remains to be answered is will this advanced technology that we call telehealth, be able to redefine the quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.
These emerging models produce virtual communities of learning and practice that embrace all members of the healthcare team. They are the latest point on the telemedicine continuum that began with the point-to-point connection achieved by Einthoven's pioneering electrocardiogram. Building out the connection established under telemedicine into an ever-expanding knowledge-sharing network can create new potential to improve health and save lives.
Dr. Mercado has practiced medicine since 2000, and provided virtual care since 2015. She earned her medical degree at the University of the Philippines in Manila. She completed her Family Medicine Residency at Akron General Medical Center in Ohio, where she was the chief resident during her final year of residency. She has spent the last six working in a primary care setting where she saw patients of all ages. Dr. Mercado believes communication is an integral part of a physician-patient interaction. During her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, watching movies, volunteering, and spending time with her family.
Not all state and federal agencies define telehealth in exactly the same terms, but most are fairly consistent with the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which defines telehealth this way, “The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”

As with many other aspects of modern life, new technologies have had profound impacts on the healthcare delivery system in the US. Modern healthcare customers think nothing of booking an appointment, requesting a prescription refill, or looking at test results online. Many of us count our steps, keep track of what we eat, and monitor our heart rate from a smart device. These days, healthcare and technology go hand in hand.
Telenursing refers to the use of telecommunications and information technology in order to provide nursing services in health care whenever a large physical distance exists between patient and nurse, or between any number of nurses. As a field it is part of telehealth, and has many points of contacts with other medical and non-medical applications, such as telediagnosis, teleconsultation, telemonitoring, etc.
States may submit a coverage SPA to better describe the telemedicine services they choose to cover, such as which providers/practitioners are; where it is provided; how it is provided, etc. In this case, and in order to avoid unnecessary SPA submissions, it is recommended that a brief description of the framework of telemedicine be placed in an introductory section of the State Plan and then a reference made to telemedicine coverage in the applicable benefit sections of the State Plan. For example, in the physician section it might say that dermatology services can be delivered via telemedicine provided all state requirements related to telemedicine as described in the state plan are otherwise met.

All the guidelines and restrictions we’ve listed above are for billing telemedicine through traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans under a commercial payer have complete flexibility to cover telemedicine however they want! This means, Advantage plans may cover telemedicine for your patient and not have any of those restrictions on what qualifies as an eligible originating site. Call the payer and ask what they’ll cover and what their telemedicine guidelines are.
RPM telemedicine is quickly rising in popularity as more health professionals realize its potential effects on chronic care management. For instance, a patient with diabetes who has a glucose tracker in their home can measure their glucose levels at regular intervals and transmit them to their doctor. If all is well, those results are simply recorded. If something looks off, the physician may flag it and call in the patient for a consult.
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), TV celebrity Dr. Phil McGraw discussed the Doctor On Demand app, which connects any patient with a Board Certified physician or pediatrician via video chat in just two minutes. To use Doctor On Demand, patients download the app, give some background on their medical history, enter information on what’s wrong, and the app connects them to a health care provider from there. The service is currently available in 47 US states (excluding Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alaska) and can be accessed through the iPhone, iPad, Android, and on the web. Doctor on Demand’s hours of operation are 7 am to 11 pm local time (we're hoping it will one day become available 24 hours a day). A 15-minute session costs $40, which is a bit higher than the average co-pay many patients have for in-office visits, and the program currently does not accept health insurance. From the app demo at CES and from Kelly’s experience (more on that below), the Doctor On Demand app is quite sleek and the video chat is as easy to use as Facetime or Skype. Patients can find pharmacists and manage their prescriptions right from their smartphone – no more hard-to-read prescriptions or the potential to lose the prescription slip. Dr. Phil characterized the service as a “game-changer” and proposed that it could address 17 of the top 20 reasons people see a doctor (the flu, skin conditions, etc.) – these day-to-day conditions seem to be a key focus of Docotor on Demand, as opposed to more chronic conditions like full-time diabetes management. To learn more about Doctor on Demand’s policies and most frequently asked questions, please see this page.
State legislation determines the restrictions and often, the reimbursement rates for telemedicine services administered in that state. For instance, any state that has passed a telemedicine parity law has mandated that private payers in that state to reimburse telemedicine visits at the same rate as a comparable in-person visit. While a majority of states have now passed telemedicine parity laws, changing state legislation is often a time-consuming, unwieldy process and can have a huge impact on the telemedicine practices in that state.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, telehealth encompasses a range of services, from health monitoring and patient consultation to the transmission of medical records. It’s more broadly defined as any electronic exchange of health information. A growing number of healthcare organizations have embraced telehealth because of the benefits it provides to patients and clinicians.
But getting doctors to jump on board is easier said than done, and takes time. Many are afraid of liability, as it's possible to miss something during a remote visit. And for years, it wasn't clear whether they would get paid as much as an in-person visit. Reimbursement questions are still getting resolved across different states, but most of the commercial and government plans are on board with the idea of telemedicine -- at least in specific circumstances.
Shannon Edmonds has practiced medicine since 2009, and provided virtual care since 2015. She started out her professional career as a teacher and eventually went back to school for her BSN, then Master's and Doctoral degrees in nursing at University of Washington. Her nursing experience ranges from being a school nurse, nursing research, and most recently, doing in-home health assessments. As a family Nurse Practitioner, she finds the gamut of diagnoses and ages interesting.
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